|My student on my horse.|
For the last month or so, I’ve been giving riding lessons to a 12 year old whose horse is stabled at the barn. She is an enthusiastic pupil with a good foundation who devours any and all horse-related knowledge. (She’s been studying my copy of the USPC Manual of Horsemanship (D-Level) for the better part of two weeks.) She idolizes Moe, though she doggedly perseveres on her own short POA gelding who’s coming off a stint as a police horse/sitting in a field.
I offered what support I could and we turned our attention to the task at hand (convincing her horse that he is, in fact, capable of cantering), but I’ve been thinking about the hows and whys of why horse people can be so hateful to one another; moreso, what would possess a child to belittle another about what kind of horse they have or how high they’re jumping.
You see this kind of thing in the adult world, too. Eventers make snide comments about how those hunter princesses wouldn’t last a minute on a real foxhunt or make fun of their big dopey warmbloods who couldn’t keep up with a hunt field if their life depended on it. Rodeo competitors have nothing but disdain for English riders who pamper their delicate, hot-blooded horses and think neither horse nor rider have ever done a day’s work in their lives.
We’re all equestrians together. We all love our horses; they work hard for us, and we do our best by them. Everyone has a different way of doing things, but by and large, there’s no one true way to do anything. Of course, neglectful or abusive owners, riders, and trainers exist. But they aren’t the focus of this post. Average, everyday horse people are.
There’s something to be learned from everyone. I learned the rope-halter-to-fix-a-pulling-back-habit trick from my very rodeo oriented coworkers. I learned the value of a steady, rhythmic pace around a jumping course from my days on the equestrian team. I learned how gag bits, when used properly, don’t have to be harsh from my polo instructor.
The horse blogging community is a great place for support. The blogs I read are full of interesting ideas, good advice, thought-provoking opinions, and a healthy sense of humor. We cheer one another’s successes, empathize and strategize failures, and offer sympathy in tragedy. Let’s take that attitude to the real world. Let’s be good examples for riders our own age as well as for young people. Let’s show good sportsmanship and civility at competitions; let’s offer to help a fellow equestrian in need. Let’s try to learn from people who are different from us, and stop making fun of each other.
Except for minis. We can still make fun of minis, because this is just too silly.